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Chapter 2 - Energy concerns and the project cycle*

* by F. Pétry Economist, Training Service Policy Analysis Division Food and Agriculture Organization

I. Project identification
II. Project preparation
III. Project appraisal
IV. Project monitoring and evaluation
V. Conclusions

The previous paper has clarified what energy is. This one attempts to indicate when project planners should be concerned about It, and which issues are the most likely to come up.

Energy is taken here in a rather wide sense. It will Include:

-animate energy (human and animal) and the energy necessary to produce it - i.e. food and feed;

-mechanic energy (through machines) and the energy necessary to make the machines run (whether commercial or traditional, potential or chemical);

-heat, light and all other forms of energy required for agricultural work, or for the rural household or rural industries.

A more traditional way to describe it in terms of agricultural projects is to review the possible constraints (and opportunities) related to:

· nutrition (human and animal)
· labour
· space heating, lighting, cooking fuel, and
· energy inputs to agriculture and off-farm productive activities.

The reader may then think he has always done it. But was it sufficiently systematic? and were alternative possibilities always considered? This text is not proposing any revolution of project analysis methods but only a more systematic concern about energy -based on the experience of problems often identified too late in the process of development efforts.

Let us first review briefly the phases of the project cycle, and then detail further the main issues at each stage

The goals that the "energy analyst" will keep in mind all along the project cycle are threefold, namely, to contribute to:

- the achievement of development targets;
- improving or sustaining the ecological environment; and
- conservation of scarce energy resources.

Fig. 1 - Schematic Representation of the Project Cycle as it is frequently depicted

I. Project identification

1. Project identification
2. Identification of energy constraints
3. Identification of opportunities
4. Preliminary screening of project alternatives

1. Project identification

1. Project identification; "the initial process of deciding what kind of project is most needed, given the problems and opportunities at a particular time and place".¹

¹ These definitions are based on Vol. 1 of the FAO publication "Guide for training in the formulation of agricultural and rural investment projects", Rome 1987.

At this stage, energy constraints in particular should be identified, and a broad assessment of energy resources and requirements carried out to find out whether:

- energy is a serious constraint in the area, or for the kind of project proposed; and

- energy potential may suggest new development ideas; and decide whether an energy component should be included in the project and/or a study by an energy specialist included in the preparation work.

2. Identification of energy constraints

Basic needs include, among others, food, shelter, lighting, health, etc. This implies basic energy needs for:

- human calorie
- intake cooking fuel
- heating fuel
-lighting fuel
- water pumping, if necessary
- etc.

in addition to production of energy requirements for agricultural and off-farm activities.

Fig. 2 and 3 below describe schematically the energy flows in a typical farm and developing country village, respectively. Such analyses of the local systems may be simple and useful tools for a first identification of energy constraints. They will point out the main issues which may need further study:

- nutrition and labour
- feed balance
- mechanical and animal draught power
- fuelwood
- availability of commercial energy inputs.

Further analysis may include detailed energy balances at farm or area level (see, for example, Mercier, 1983, OLADE Ho. 8, etc.).

2a. Guidelines for nutritional considerations are given in "Nutrition in Agriculture", Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4 (FAO, 1982, 1983 and 1984).

At the identification stage, a desk review of available information is recommended. The main questions to be faced are:

- are the beneficiaries' basic nutritional needs satisfied now?

- what are the nutritional benefits or possible negative effects of the proposed project idea?

-is it likely that the proposed project requires such an increase of labour intensity at certain periods of the year that seasonal food deficiencies may occur?

Fig. 2 - Flow Diagram for a Typical Farm

N.B. This is just one example of what the main flows of energy are on a farm. The exact pattern will depend on the type of agricultural techniques used.

Fig 3 - Aggregate Annual Village Energy-related resource flows: Dhanishwar, Bangladesh

As a result, the project identification report should include:

(a) preliminary conclusions on the main food and nutrition problems of the area;

(b) the likely short-term effects of the project on food consumption, the longer-term impact on nutritional status and how design modifications might influence these;

(c) recommendations and specifications for further data needs and analyses, hypotheses to be tested, suggestions for data collecting and processing;

(d) preliminary identification of indicators to monitor and evaluate the project's effects on food consumption and nutrition;

(e) appraisal of existing nutrition and health interventions which might reinforce the impact of the project, possibly a recommendation for a nutrition intervention.

2b. Labour analysis is clearly necessary at this stage. A crop calendar will be the basis for analysis of the agricultural labour requirements at peak seasons, complemented by a rapid time-budget study of both men and women, to include all other farm and non-farm activities - with due attention to the household workload, but also to activities often considered as leisure although irreducible, like marketing or even festivities time.

As an example, the graphics below show an analysis of gender roles in a typical African farming system, and a time-budget of a woman in Sierra Leone.

2c. Once the main nutritional and labour constraints have been identified, further study may be necessary at this stage concerning:

- manure availability and use and fertiliser requirements and procurement
- animal draught capacity and methods
- mechanisation
- fuelwood balance
- electrification and/or procurement of kerosene and diesel.

Figure 4 How the work is divided(Africa,percentage of total labour in hours)

Figure 5 Sierra Leone: one woman's day

3. Identification of opportunities

Energy should also be seen as an opportunity for development. Where indigenous energy resources are available, they may become a catalytic element for local development of irrigated agriculture, for example, agro-processing, or small-scale industries.

Area development projects, in particular, must take into account local resources of biomass, hydro-, solar and wind energy potential, as well as existing and planned electrification schemes, in order to identify development potentialities and include the necessary project component ideas. These may include specific energy components, like afforestation, agroforestry, watermills, windmills, solar drying, etc., or energy saving components like improved stove programmes or housing improvements, or related elements concerning animal draught, mechanisation, etc.

Assessment of resources will follow well-established methodologies (see Twente, 1986, ICIMOD, 1983, Gowen 1985, ADPC 1985, FAO Forestry paper No. 27 and FAO/Kuusela + Nyyossonnen, 1981, for forest resources, Lysen, 1983, for wind resources, Barnard and Kristofersen, 1985, for agricultural residues. Feil, 1983, for solar energy).

In addition to desk review of documentation, the planner will need to draw information from local people's experience (particularly on biomass species and their uses) through rapid rural appraisal techniques, as well as from neighbouring areas and countries from which technologies and methods can most easily be transferred.

The following table can help identify energy options for different types of energy and use requirements.

Table 1

Energy Option

Type of energy

Solar Water Heaters and Crop Dryers

Solar Photo voltaic

Animal Draught

Wind Power Power

Hydro Power

Biomass Gasifiers

Biogas Digester

Diesel or Gasoline

Bottled Gas or Kerosene Engine

Grid Electricity Burner

Low Temperature Heat











High Temperature Heat











Stationary Mechanical -Power











Mobile Mechanical -Power

































(KEY: YES means that the energy option can supply this type of energy; (-) means that It cannot)

Project identification is the time of imagination: brainstorming among technicians and with the intended beneficiaries can bring out the most "unlikely" proposals, as the best energy solutions for rural development are often quite different from the conventional ones of electricity-grid -and- diesel-engines as well as from the fashionable "all renewable".

The most common approach to planning energy development projects centers on technology and resource assessment, whose purpose is to identify the technologies (such as "energy plantations" or woodlots, solar collectors, or biogas digesters) that can be developed in a given location. But given the variety of needs and local situations, the first and primary line of exploration is to determine what the villagers feel they need. Once these concerns are identified, the ways in which energy resources can be applied (or more efficiently used) to help meet these needs can be explored. By approaching energy development from this angle, one is more likely to identify the problems of real concern, and address them directly and successfully.

It is possible that a familiar energy "production" technology (such as a biogas plant or woodlot) can be used to meet the needs identified. However, there may also be other approaches to the energy-linked problems, that use modified farming techniques, small-scale technologies, and/or improved methods and Cools to meet identified needs. Such alternatives may be even more effective than applying a "high-tech" solution. That is why it is particularly important to begin with an assessment of general needs, so that these central concerns can be addressed creatively in the most appropriate manner. Technology assessment is therefore a complementary, rather than primary, focus of project identification.

If the project planner begins an exploration of local needs using a pre- determined list of "problems" or a rigid set of neatly-boxed questions, he or she is likely to be blind to unanticipated problems and opportunities. Instead, it is probably worthwhile to begin by easing into village life and exploring in a less structured way the types of concerns that are on villagers' minds. In this process, it is also important to avoid looking only for the "negative". Finding out the positive aspects of people's lives can say a lot about values, in a way that complaint-focused questions might miss completely.

To get this overall sense of 'goods" and "bads", some basic questions the planner might ask include:

- what do you especially like about living here?

- is this a "good year"? "Bad year"? Why?

- how does this village compare with its neighbours? What is special? What is lacking?

- what are the main obstacles to improving conditions here? (for individuals and/or for the village overall);

- what are the most enjoyable parts of the day? What would you most like to avoid? Why?

- how does life change in different seasons? What are the best times of year? Hardest times? Why?

- what are the hardest jobs you do? What are the hardest jobs others do? Which are the most satisfying? Which would you like to increase? Decrease? What are the main obstacles to (or negative ramifications of) such changes?

- etc.

Table 2






I. Yield Constraints

A. Timely planting

Optimising the growth period requires timely planting) entails a labor-constraint

Use of mechanisation or improved tools (e.g. "iron buffalo") '.to allow more timely planting

Mechanisation is "labor enhancement", but requires diesel energy

B. Fertiliser needs

Other demands for dung, crop waste reduce availability of fertiliser, reducing yields

1. Substitution for non-fertiliser uses for dung and crop waste (finding energy to replace their use as fuel)
2. Use of biogas to recover fertiliser and energy from dung

Substitutes for dung energy use (biomass supplements, solar, or improved stoves) release dung for fertiliser
Biogas technology development

C. Water Management

1. drought

Crop failure or major yield reduction can occur due to water shortage

Irrigation facilities, esp.-small-scale pumpint devices

Pumping energy may be required, but not likely to be major limitation

2. flooding

Crop failure or reduction can occur due to excess water

Water control

Few links, unless pumping used

3. aridity

Reduced yields can result from limited average water availability

Irrigation facilities

See #1

D. Pest losses

1. Weeds

Competition from weeds reduces yields

Altered management strategies to facilitate weeding (e.g. row planting with mechanical weeder)

Mechanical weeders constitute labor-enhancement

2. Insects

Consumption in field reduces yields

Mixed planting, timely "pest picking" or use of pesticides

Limited link with mixed planting or pesticides Freeing labor during pest-control season allows direct management

3. Birds, Mammals

Consumption in field, especially near harvest time, reduces yields

Early harvest reduces length of vulnerable period

Mechanical (human- or diesel-powered) threshers allow processing of less-ripe grain

II. "Recovery" Factors

A. Timely harvest

Late harvest leads to greater "grain drop" in field, pest losses and breakage) occur due to demands

Mechanical harvesters and/or processesers (can overcome labor constraint to early harvest)

Mechanical harvesters/threshers constitute labor-enhancement (-energy "production")

B. Sufficient drying

Insufficient drying can increase storage losses, dried products may command higher price

Improved drying surfaces or increased extent of artificial drying

Improved surfaces constitute enhanced solar energy recovery system) crop dryers are also energy inputs (use of crop waste should be emphasized)

C. Processing

Parboiling(which decreases storage losses) may be fuel-limited

Increased parboiling

Biomass production or waste recovery schemes may provide needed energy source

D. Storage

Poor facilities increase losses to pests and fungi

Improved storage containers

Little relation to energy

III. Profitability Factors

A. Timing of harvest

Earlier harvest than average may Improve price received

Earlier planting and/or harvest

See sections on timely planting and harvest

B. Timing of sale

Ability to delay sale past peak harvest improves price received

Improved income/debt status of poor farmers to allow delay in sale of produce; encourage seller cooperatives

Energy-related income alternatives increase options

IV. Cropping Intensity-Multiple Cropping (second/third crop)

Water limits in dry season preclude relay cropping labor constraints may further inhibit multiple crops

Irrigation systems

1. Energy required for pumping 2. Mechanisation may be necessary to allow timely planting and harvest

Source: K. Johnson in CUSRU/RSI/FAO July-Aug. 1985

Then energy specific questions may follow - again in an open form and in a language villagers understand well.

4. Preliminary screening of project alternatives

By this stage, a number of project ideas should have come up, some of which Co alleviate the local energy constraints, others which may create new constraints.

It is important, then, to check first that the final set of proposals that will be made to the financing agency¹ does satisfy globally the energy needs of the population concerned (and not only their commercial demand for fuels) as well as the energy requirements of the local production activities, including those of the new project.

¹ Whether the financing agency may be local or central government, foreign donor, or private bank, the identification work is similar.

Household needs' assessment can be done roughly at this stage by using a rough projection of household or population numbers and standard rates per household or per capita.

If a severe constraint is identified, or local consumption patterns particularly atypical, more refined assessment may be needed with household surveys (see, inter alia, FAO - Parikh, 1985, FAO - Scheider, 1985, Howes, 1985).

Similarly, standard rates can be used for energy inputs required for agriculture, agro-processing and other local activities, after projections have been made for their development (see, for example, N. Islam, in ADPC, 1988).

Technological options to alleviate these energy requirements should be carefully screened to ensure they are the ones best suited to the local conditions, rather than proposed by a particular energy supplier. Too often, indeed, technology choices are driven by the offers made, e.g. by the national electricity board, or a foreign windmill producer, or a forestry department, or a nation-wide biogas project, etc..

Technology options should satisfy the following questions:

1. can it supply energy in the right form?
2. are the necessary energy inputs available?
3. can it match the pattern of energy demand?
4. are the necessary skills available to operate it?
5. is it affordable to the user?

Conventional technologies, such as diesel engines, tend to be fairly standardised. They can be chosen "off the shelf", the main questions being the make of equipment to be bought, and the size of unit needed.

With renewable technologies, choosing the best system design is often more complex. With a small-scale hydro system, for example, as well as the size of the system, the type of water wheel or turbine needs to be specified, as do the civil works needed, the method of controlling the water flow, and a variety of other technical details.

The logic of inefficiency¹, or the importance of non-technical solutions

A mistake often made in the past was to consider inefficiency as a result of ignorance; arrogance of Chose who have the knowledge and think that a correct technical solution will solve the problem.

On the contrary, inefficiency - in technical or economic terms - has its logic and is usually the result of specific constraints and conscious choices. A project which ignores these choices is bound to fail.

Charcoal-making is a good example. Traditional kilns in many African countries are much less efficient than modern metallic or brick kilns. The technical solution would be to bring such "modern" technologies to the charcoal makers.

Actually, this is a non-solution: an analysis of the charcoal sector shows that the real entrepreneurs - those who draw important profit from charcoal- making - are the owners of vehicles which transport charcoal to cities. These have no interest in better kiln-efficiency: labour is cheap and available. Wood is "plenty" and free, as use of the forest is largely uncontrolled.

On the other hand, individual charcoal producers in Haiti, with similar kilns, take such care that their efficiency is comparable with "modern" kilns, as the labour cost of wood-collection is increasing with forest depletions.

Both cases have their logic, according to the local socio-economic conditions.

The answer for saving wood, in the first case, is therefore more institutional than technical: forest control and licence systems, charcoal marketing cooperatives, etc., may motivate charcoal producers to improve their techniques or to invest themselves in new equipment - even without external assistance.

¹ Adapted from a paper by M. Matly in "Biomasse Actualités", No. 10, 1986.

Regarding the pattern of energy demand, seasonality of energy supply and demand, as well as daily variations, are an essential element of technology choices, as can be seen from examples in the table below.




Some activities, especially those related to agriculture, only take place at certain times of the year. Energy is therefore needed during peak periods of activity, and not at others.


Not all energy sources are equally available throughout the year. Average windspeeds, for example, and the flow rate of rivers often show marked seasonal variations because of changing weather patterns.

Few activities take place constantly 24 hours a day. More often, the level of activity varies from hour to hour, giving peaks and lulls in the energy demand. A typical example is lighting, but most agricultural and household activities also have a distinct pattern.


With solar-powered systems, there is a characteristic daily variation in energy output. It increases during the morning as the sun rises in the sky, peaks around midday, then decreases in the afternoon until the sun eventually sets.

Some activities show rapid variations in energy demand from moment to moment An example is a sawmill, when a log first touches the blade of a circular saw, the resistance on the blade suddenly increase and there is a surge in energy demand.


With solar and wind-powered systems there are also big fluctuations from one minute to another. If the sun goes in or the wind drops, the energy output falls dramatically.

(See FAO, Barnard, 1986, for details.)

More generally, the energy project components, like all others, must satisfy the following 10 criteria.

"Assessing the Risk of Project Implementation Failure"



Does the project reflect an understanding of the chains of cause-and-effect within the relevant socio-economic system?


Is the project idea supported by the local people?


Is it acceptable to the local power structure?


Does it have well-defined objectives?


How high is the managerial capacity of the "instrument" agents?


Are the project effects measurable?


Are the project effects irreversible?


Are the project methods known to have worked elsewhere?


Will the project continue to operate without external support?


Will there be adverse effects on the local environment?

Source: FAO - Guide for training on the formulation of agricultural and RD investment projects, 1987.

In particular, project designers must check the capacity of local manufacturers to maintain and repair the equipment, the regular availability of commercial energy inputs, the social acceptability of options proposed (e.g. manure manipulation for biogas), the possible effects on the poorest groups of the population (e.g. use of communal forest or of animal dung being limited as a result of the project) as well as acceptability to local leaders, etc.

Finally, the following checklists can be used to verify that the proposals made actually match satisfactorily the energy requirements with the local resources.

Who needs energy?

Which ethnic groups, which social classes, in which geographical areas, men or women, land-owners or not, cattle owners or not, etc..

Energy for what?


Cooking (see above); preparing drinks, lighting; space heating; water heating (washing); electrical appliances (radio, TV, ...); ironing; air conditioning; collecting water; collecting fuels; repelling insects.

Social services

Water pumping; street lighting; telecommunications; institutional needs (for schools, clinics, community centres, religious places, etc»); cremation/burials.

Field agriculture

Land clearing; levelling and drainage, etc.; fencing; land preparation, planting; applying fertiliser and pesticides; weeding; pest removal; harvesting/picking; permanent crop husbandry; irrigation; animal husbandry; milking.

Post-harvest operations

Thresh/winnowing; drying; mill/grinding; smoking; storage operations; prepare animal feed; bread baking; brewing and distilling; refrigeration; drying tobacco, tea, coffee, copra, etc..


Homesite to field transport and vice versa; farm to market; provision of services; provision of goods; trips to school; emergency transport.

Small industries and crafts

Black/tin smithery; brick making; building; pottery; salt preparation; charcoal making; carpentry; spinning and weaving; foods tails/bars/restaurants; brewing.

(Source: Twente University, 1986.)

With which specific requirements?

- Urgency - waiting time or delay which is acceptable.

- Urgency - speed of operation.

- Timing of need - over season, weeks, over day.

- Short term peak variations.

- Variations in size of load, or output.

- Fixed location or mobile.

- Desirable deree of control - controllability.

- Reliability, e.g. necessity to continue to perform in different seasonal/weather conditions and sensitivity to interruption.

- Is a specific form of energy needed (e.g. electricity, or high heat)?

- Duration of energy required.

- Is safety for users/non-users a problem?

- "Separability" - potential for combining with other end-uses.

(adapted from Twente University Manual, 1986)

II. Project preparation

1. Project preparation
2. Beneficiary participation in project design
3. Detailed analysis of energy constraints and requirements
4. Design of energy components

1. Project preparation;

1. Project preparation; "the designing of the identified project in detail so that all the necessary inputs it requires are properly specified".

Here, the rapid assessment carried out during identification is verified in more detail Then, if any energy constraint or opportunity has been identified, relevant project inputs and activities are planned so as to relieve the constraints and/or develop the resource potential. This may include legal prerequisites, price policies, as well as marketing channels or government input delivery system, research and development of appropriate technologies, training, etc., on specific project components like afforestation or a dam, etc. This is also the time to check whether the other project components proposed are not introducing new energy constraints in the project area - or to resolve these as well

2. Beneficiary participation in project design

Project preparation is the time for detailed analysis of potentialities and constraints identified earlier, and design of project components.

While the previous phase involved the rural people only briefly through group meetings and rapid interviews to identify their perceptions and knowledge of problems, needs and possible solutions, the preparation of energy components or the detailed assessment of energy resources and constraints must be done in close cooperation with the people concerned.

Unless researchers stay for at least a year in the village, only the local people will be able to provide reliable information on their seasonal labour constraints, on the food shortage times, on the full range of occupations, on the places where wood and water are collected, on the evolution of forest availability over the years and water over a year, on animal draught and manure usage systems, on social constraints, oh their willingness to pay for light or other energy needs, etc.

Participatory methods of planning have been experimented for a long time in social forestry projects (see FAD, 1934) and more recently for integrated energy planning in Chile, as described in the Coquimbo case study, and in Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal (case study number 3).

Such approaches must be developed further and implemented on a wider scale, so chat indigenous knowledge is fully used and peoples' wants better tackled in development planning.

Women, in particular, have been shown to possess a very precise knowledge of forest products and species, of agro-forestry practices for the homestead, etc. (see FAO, 1987, "Restoring the balance"). They are also the main users, as well as suppliers, of energy in the household. Their participation in planning and decision-making is limited by social constraints, as well as by lack of education, time, land, money, etc. But missing their knowledge and involvement at the start has often been the cause of failure of projects, particularly afforestation projects.

Most rural people will not understand the global concept of energy and will not even have a word for it in vernacular language, but they have no difficulty discussing "work and fuel" or some similar concepts. Often, they will say that fuel is not a primary concern to them. "If we have enough food to put in the pot, we'll always manage the fuel to cook it", as a Bangladesh woman told us. However, they are often very imaginative in justifying requests of help for labour-saving machines and devices and the related energy inputs. Indeed, our experience with participatory planning for energy indicates that the local people will generally force the energy specialist, if needed, to think in terms of integrated development and overall rural development planning.

3. Detailed analysis of energy constraints and requirements

A. Analysts by sector

The energy requirements of rural areas can be classified in three sectors:

(i) the household sector: the largest one, with major demand for cooking fuel, mainly fuelwood, and usually comprising a large section of rural poor whose basic needs for energy are not met at present;

(ii) the agriculture sector, with its present constraints and development needs for energy for development;

(iii) rural industries, also with its present constraints and development requirements, in a great variety of industry sizes and technology levels.

Household needs

In most developing countries, this sector will have to be stratified according to a number of ecological and socio-economic factors, into groups with similar characteristics of consumption.

For the most market-oriented groups (small towns, for example), consumption can be estimated by trend analysis and population projections. For the subsistence sector, on the other hand, which collects fuel "free" from the forest or common land, "minimum needs" norms have Co be used for total requirements, while their small demand for kerosene, electricity and other commercial fuel can be estimated through trend or income elasticity.

For example, in India, the national Advisory Board on Energy (ABE) has assumed that about 620 kcal of useful heat needs to be provided per capita per day for meeting cooking energy needs, about 30 kcal of useful heat per capita per day for meeting space heating needs and 30 kcal of useful energy per capita per day needs to be provided for meeting lighting needs. The base-year fuel-mix taken from the survey conducted in 1978-79 shows that for cooking, in rural areas, it is as follows: fuelwood 56%, softcoke 2%, kerosene 3%, vegetable waste 19%, dung 20%, others 1%. For lighting, in rural areas, the shares were 12% kerosene and electricity 88%.¹

¹ Source: N. Islam, in APDC "Rural energy planning", 1983.

Changes of fuel-mix may be assumed, in relation to changes of income, and some improvements in efficiency of fuel use may be related to actions such as improved stoves programmes.

The various steps to be carried out by the planner are described by N. Islam (APDC, 1988):

"First, each village can be selected on the basis of agro-climatic conditions such as soil type, rainfall, irrigation, forest cover, etc. For each of the 'typical or representative' village, a few categories of households can be identified whose consumption pattern is to be used as the norm for projection. These norms (both for level of energy consumption as well as fuel-shares) are then multiplied with estimated population in each group of households and aggregated at the village-level. Similarly, norms for average (and its variance) consumption for each village are used along with the population levels of these villages to get an aggregate of demand at the district/region level and so on. These estimates will give projections for mean levels of energy consumption along with the range of projected values. Such estimates for the national level have, then, to be compared with estimates of consumption obtained at the macro-level using regression analysis as well as average national norms. Since there will be some differences in the two estimates, a number of iterations may be required to get a 'reasonable' set of estimates."

Agricultural requirements

Similarly, farms should be classified according to agro-ecological and technical factors related, in particular, to the level of mechanization. A simple classification of traditional, transitional and modern farms is proposed both in APDC (1988).

Rural industries

Typologies for rural industries would be based on size (home processing vs. small-scale in village vs. semi-industrial), technology (traditional vs. modern, mechanical/animal/man-operated), energy-use efficiency and dominant fuel source.

B. Analysis by energy source

An alternative or complementary form of analysis may be carried out by type of energy input, ranging from human labour to, say, electricity.

Labour constraints, in particular, must be analysed by sex and age groups (children, adults, old people), and by season, taking carefully into account all types of activities.

Nutritional constraints may need, at this stage, an in-depth study, as described in FAO, 1982. Use of animal draught and feed constraints, mechanisation requirements, etc., are studied at this stage as during identification, but in more detail.

All these elements should be analysed from a farm-household system point of view, for each one of the models (farm models, in particular) considered for the project. A method for this has been proposed by R. Mercier (FAO, 1983) using simple calculation sheets, as show in fig. 6.

Systems analysis should also be carried out at the village or area level, depending on the project concerned, and this may include an energy balance (as in Table 2) or an energy flow network (Reference Energy System, as in Fig. 6) if energy has been identified as a serious constraint in the area.

Simultaneous analysis of all types of energy constraints is necessary, given the multiple and competing uses of single resources in the rural areas.

For example, manure can be used as fuel or as fertiliser. Biogas production is sometimes a solution which allows using it both as a better quality fertiliser and as input for gas production.

Similarly, straw can be used for soil improvement, fodder, litter, fuel, biogas production, even handicrafts production, or a combination of these.

The void tables and where to find the information in sheet 3

4. Design of energy components

Once specific energy constraints have been quantified, whether from basic needs or from the requirements related to the proposed development project, the design of corresponding project components will be left to specialists. Zootechnicians and agronomists can certainly, as usual, take care of feed, animal draught, mechanisation and fertiliser constraints. A nutritionist or an engineer may need to be added to the team Co design special nutrition intervention, or energy production components. If energy inputs requirements are very small, the existing project team may be able to bring the design to sufficient detail with local people and manufacturers. Simple methods for technology selection and design of components are given in G. Barnard (FAO, 1986) and in Twente University (1986).

Essential aspects to be considered include:

- the availability of the necessary equipment, whether it is produced locally, and whether manufacturers are willing to provide a guarantee on the goods they supply;

- the reliability of different systems, and the operation and maintenance requirements; and

- the availability of spare parts, and the ability of suppliers to provide a technical back-up service.

Table 3: Schematization of an Energy Balance Table with Emphasis on Traditional Energy Sourses*


Primary Energy

Secondary Energy


Animal residue

Crop residue

Animal labour

Human labour



Soft coke

Dung cakes

Primary Energy suply

Domestic Production

Energy Transformation

Charcoal Production
Soft Coke Production
Dungcakes Biogas

Final Consumption

Energy Uses
Rural Industry
Rural Transportation
Non-Energy Uses
Industrial Use/Domestic Use
Manure Others(Specify)

* Source: ADPC, 1988

Fig.7: Format for Reference Energy System(RES)*


- 1. All flows are shown in Million of Oil Equivalent.

- 2. All figures inside parenthesis denote efficiency coefficients off conversion processes or end-use devices.

3. Figures are based on tentative estimates for India for 1982-83.

For these reasons, the most technically sophisticated option will not always be the best choice. Even if it is less efficient, a simple design that can be repaired locally may well be a better buy than a more sophisticated imported system that cannot be fixed if it breaks down.

Capital costs are obviously important too. But often there are trade-offs to be made between cost, performance and reliability. Although low cost is an obvious advantage, the cheapest system will not work out to be the best alternative in the long run if it proves to be unreliable.

There are no simple rules that can be applied in choosing the best system. A lot comes down to experience, and knowledge of the local working environment.

For a planner, obtaining sound advice will often be crucial. Simply relying on the claims made by equipment suppliers can be a dangerous course. For obvious reasons, their chief interest is in selling their own company's products.

III. Project appraisal

Project appraisal: it is "close analysis of the prepared project to ensure that it meets relevant planning and investment criteria and that adequate arrangements for its implementation have been made".

Now, the technical, social, financial, institutional and environmental feasibility of the project must be thoroughly checked - for the energy aspects as for any other - and a global economic analysis carried out. In addition, an energy ratio may be calculated in case national or donor policies include energy efficiency per se as one of the project selection criteria.

At the project appraisal stage, a decision will be made by the project funding agency - whether governmental, non-governmental or international - on whether or not to carry out the project.

Technical feasibility of energy components will have to be checked by energy specialists/engineers, on the basis of detailed specifications provided by the project design engineer and/or the manufacturers.

The social feasibility study will include, among others:

(i) an analysis of the likely impact of the project on the poorest section of the population of the area (beneficiaries and non-beneficiaries) with particular attention to the use of resources which are usually "free" to the user, such as fuelwood and other forest products, manure, etc.,

(ii) an analysis of the possible changes in social roles or power structures due to the project, including change of task responsibilities and income disposal between men and women due to mechanisation or other new elements of prestige, the risk of increased income gap due Co the higher capacity of the richer to invest in new technologies, etc.

Institutional feasibility includes a review of the government and private organisations dealing with energy technologies, with forestry, etc., to analyse the possibilities of conflicts and of cooperation and check that the institutional arrangement proposed in the project is practical and efficient. The possible requirements for legal or institutional amendments prior to the project must be clearly specified and agreed upon at this stage This may include changes in the ownership systems for trees or forest areas, or in kerosene price or marketing regulations, etc..

Financial feasibility must be checked at beneficiary level, as well as project or enterprise level, and at government level if foreign credit is involved. Cost-benefit analysis is carried out at beneficiary level - including non-monetary advantages and losses - and at national level. Both are discussed in greater detail in Chapter 3.

Environmental impact can be particularly important for some types of energy components like forestry (a positive impact usually), land clearing or drastic changes in biomass production (potentially dangerous) or dams, for example. A simple methodology for environment impact analysis at area level is given in ICIMOD (1988).

Finally, a question related to both economic and environment feasibility is that of the energy cost of the project. In particular cases where energy as such is considered as one of the scarcest resources of the country or region, it may be useful to assess the project in terms of energy efficiency and to compare alternatives in terms of their energy input/output ratio (in addition to economic analysis) where all direct and indirect¹ energy costs and benefits are estimated. Energy efficiency, however, cannot be used as a single criterion since, in most cases, the preferred solution is indeed energy costly. To see this, it is sufficient to note that mechanised agriculture is far less energy-efficient in general than fully manual agriculture, or that developed countries' energy expenditure is far higher than that of LDCs.

¹ Indirect energy costs include the energy necessary for producing the equipment, mining the metal included in this equipment, etc.

Slesser, in his book on food and energy systems (1985), says:

"The energy ratio is clearly a criterion of the effectiveness of energy use in food production, but is it a useful criterion? Consider the following:

"Farmer A, in a third world rural economy, grows millet and produces 753 kg a hectare. His only inputs are seed, some cow manure, and the labour of himself and his family. The energy ratio (output divided by input) is infinite: (750 kg x 1500 cal/kg)/0 = infinity.

'Farmer B has a highly mechanised farm, using the optimal inputs for maximal gain production and on his land can get 4 tonnes/hectare. His energy ratio works out at five.

"How do we interpret these numbers? Is Farmer A more efficient and Farmer B less so? Let us leave the conclusion to the reader... but consider which you would rather have if you were hungry. A tonne of millet or a tonne of oil? We cannot eat oil, but we can use it to create more millet.

"It is the author's view that energy ratio is not a suitable criterion for the assessment of efficiency, except when one is comparing two identical systems of production of the same intensity of output."

Similarly, the energy "recycling ratio" had been proposed by N. and G. Axinn (1980) as an indicator of development or one of the criteria in target-group selection. Low recycling often takes place in industrialised agriculture, while the Chinese have become world experts in recycling practically all wastes within the farm system. However, the authors themselves conclude (Axinn 1983) that this ratio "can become an indicator of change in rural social systems, but not the goal for rural development".

Financial feasibility analysis should take particular care in identifying the real market price for energy inputs - as these are often black market prices as in the case of illegal charcoal making

Economic analysis also has to consider the real value to society of the temporarily free or cheap goods like forest products or water.

The above discussion shows clearly chat numerous points of view are to be considered so that project appraisal cannot be limited to a single criterion such as an economic rate of return. RD projects are basically multi-objective and their appraisal must therefore be multicriteria. Energy aspects alone are varied and must be assessed in a multidimensional frame. (See further discussion in Pétry, 1989.)

IV. Project monitoring and evaluation

1. Project monitoring: "the continuous or periodic review and surveillance (overseeing) by management at every level of the hierarchy of the implementation of an activity to ensure that input deliveries, work schedules, targeted outputs and other required actions are proceeding according to plan*".

* These definitions of monitoring and evaluation are taken from the ACC task force on rural development "guiding principles" on monitoring and evaluation, IFAD, Rome 1985.

Some energy-related indicators may need to be watched carefully (e.g. seasonal labour constraints, deforestation, electricity supply, nutritional supply...) according to the constraints identified during the previous stages, particularly for R+D type of components, including new and renewable energy technologies. The project plan may need to be revised according to the monitoring results during the course of its implementation.

During project implementation, the management information system must monitor closely

(i) input delivery, including availability of energy inputs;

(ii) project activities - including of course the energy components - and their performance in terms, among others, of energy cost if this has been identified as a constraint;

(iii) project effects on the environment as well as on the beneficiaries (including nutritional status); and

(iv) impact on the social and physical environment (including the forest cover).

The main energy constraints of the area, identified during the formulation stage, must be monitored with particular attention, i.e. fuelwood availability, or competing uses of manure and straw, or seasonal labour constraints.

Finally, external factors of importance to the project, like imported fuel prices, government subsidies for fuel-saving stoves, etc., are also part of the monitoring system.

Project beneficiaries should be involved in project monitoring, since they are not only the main decision-makers, but also the only "researchers" who can gather daily or weekly information on a number of aspects of energy availability or expenditures like labour, fertilisers, fuelwood, agricultural waste, etc.

2. Project evaluation: "a process for determining systematically and objectively the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness and impact of activities in the light of their objectives. It is an organizational process for improving activities still in progress and for aiding management in future planning, programming and decision-making*".

* These definitions are taken from the ACC task force on rural development "guiding principles" on monitoring and evaluation, IFAD, Rome 1985.

Project evaluation, during and after project implementation, will analyse the monitoring information against project objectives and overall national goals, in order to reorient the project activities if necessary, and draw lessons for future projects.

Evaluation may include an assessment of energy efficiency of a component or of the project as a whole. More generally, it will assess the validity of the energy assumptions made in project preparation, the results of energy project components, and pinpoint the new constraints and problems which appeared during project implementation - trying to understand their causes and draw lessons for project revision or for planning of future projects.

Technical information on energy constraints, on water or wind resources, or forest productivity, for example, obtained from monitoring and evaluation work, will be of great help for the design of new projects, since such information is rarely available in sufficient detail and synthesis.

Results obtained on energy efficiency may guide future development projects or research design.

Evaluation results should also be fed back to the manufacturing sector in order to improve the design of biogas plants, fuel-saving stoves, water turbines, etc.

V. Conclusions

The above sections have reviewed briefly the main energy aspects to be analysed at the various stages of the project cycle. General project analysis methods were supposed to be known. Further details can be studied, e.g. in Chervel and Le Gall (1978), in Gittinger (1972), in FAO (1987), and in ICIMOD (1988).

As a final recommendation, we would like to insist on the importance of beneficiary participation from problem identification to project evaluation, particularly in areas such as energy, where competing demands on scarce resources, intricate relationships between social traditions and development, unquantifiable constraints like environment stability, etc., make it impossible for a team of outsiders alone to plan and carry out a project with a reasonable chance of success.

As an example, the following chart is drawn from the Nepalese experience of participatory energy planning at village level, undertaken from 1986 to 1988 (Fig. 7), and describes the essential elements of villagers' involvement in energy planning at the local level.

Figure 8 - Participatory Action Research in rural Community and Energy Planting

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